We’ve all heard the warnings about the dangers of too much salt. In recent years, sugar has been identified equally as hazardous to our health. Some of the harmful effects include increased risk of heart disease, faster cell and skin aging, weight gain, depression, and fatigue. Reduce your sugar intake to improve overall health outcomes. These ten tips can help
Watch what you drink
You’ve heard this one before. Drinks like soda, chocolate milk, energy drinks, and even fruit juice have loads of sugar. Reduce or eliminate these – even fruit juice, which we have been trained to think of as healthy. Better to consume the entire fruit so you get some fiber to balance the sugar. Reach for water with herb sprigs, cucumber or fruit rounds instead. Avoid overusing sugar or other sweeteners in your coffee and cut back or cut out sweet cocktails and mocktails.
Many packaged food items we would not expect to have a lot of sugar, do. These include bread, salad dressing, yogurt, granola bars, ketchup, and tomato sauce. A good way to reduce your sugar intake is to notice how much sugar you are getting with your meals, snacks, and drinks. According to the American Heart Association, women should have 25 grams or less per day. Men should have 37 grams or less per day. These are general recommendations. Check with your doctor to determine the right amount for you.
Limit processed foods
Buy and consume foods in their whole form to avoid the added sugar that comes with processing. For example, make your own salad dressing with oil and vinegar or avocado and no sugar added Greek yogurt. You can also swap out jelly or syrup for bananas or fresh fruit.
Skip fruit on the bottom yogurt
Yogurt mix-ins like fruit and granola are sugar bombs. Buy plain, no sugar added yogurt and add in your own fresh fruit and nuts.
Enjoy treats in moderation
Sure, cake and cookies taste great, but they aren’t all that great for you. Limit portions and add or alternate with fruit as often as you can. Even better, bake it yourself and experiment with using a little less sugar than the recipe calls for.
And when you’re out and about…
Examine your habits and look for places to break patterns. For example:
- Skip the flavored latte and instead have your coffee black or with just a teaspoon of sugar. Try adding cinnamon or other spices for a flavor boost.
- Enjoy an afternoon walk or some chair yoga instead of your usual candy bar to beat the 3:00 slump.
- Grab a great breakfast like eggs on a whole wheat tortilla with tomato slices. Skip your usual doughnut.
- After a restaurant dinner, get a shareable dessert to top off your evening.
- When you need a pick me up, instead of drowning in a pint of ice cream treat yourself to some self-care time. Talk with a supportive friend, pull out your journal or yoga mat, play with your pet or go for a walk.
The sugar habit can be a hard one to break, but it isn’t possible. Look for small ways to cut back every day and give your taste buds time to adjust. Understanding why cutting back is important for your motivation, so stay connected to your health goals when you need encouragement.